Women struggle with arthritis in Gollabanda thanda

Unfortunately, many women in rural areas, who are unable to afford quality healthcare, are going for treatment with unregistered medical practitioners.

By Author  |  Published: 16th Apr 2018  12:21 amUpdated: 16th Apr 2018  12:24 am
Lambadas in the thanda don’t have access to safe drinking water so they depend on borewell water.

Mahabubnagar: Many women above the age of 50 years, especially in rural areas are suffering from Arthritis, a medical condition which causes locomotor disability and makes life very difficult.

Unfortunately, many women in rural areas, who are unable to afford quality healthcare, are going for treatment with unregistered medical practitioners. This has resulted in several deaths and the culprits are not being held accountable.

A startling case of one such medical negligence was found at Gollabanda thanda, a hamlet with 100 households, located within Mahabubnagar Municipality’s jurisdiction. Initially Telangana Today found out that there were 244 widows receiving pensions from the government in that hamlet.

While investigating the reasons for such a large number of widows, it was found that the issue was not just limited to men, but also to women, who have been suffering from acute arthritis and their medical condition turned worse due to the treatment provided by an unregistered medical practitioner.

Hundreds of men and women in the hamlet are suffering from arthritis.

About five months ago, the women of this hamlet came to know that a medical practitioner in Pothireddipally village of Kosgi mandal named Vijay Kumar was giving medicine which would cure arthritis.

About a dozen women from this hamlet booked an auto and went to Kosgi for treatment. Kumar gave them injections laced with steroids on their knees and gave them 30 pills each (unpacked) and asked them to continue the treatment.

What transpired later was horrific, not only in this hamlet, but also in many villages where women had sought treatment from the individual. Women started developing swelling in their knees and pus was formed thus prventing them from doing basic household chores. They all became bedridden.

Just last week, Muthyalamma, alias Motli Bai (60 plus) died after struggling with knee and joint pains. Though she was not treated by the unregistered quack, she did not get any medical help and died. One may assume that old people dying is normal.

But, Katravath Rekha (45), who took illegal medication and got confined to bed. Her husband Ramulu had died just last year due to stomach related illness. Just last week she tried to walk and fell down seriously injuring her right leg. Her son Narender Kumar, who worked as a private employee, quit his job and took up tile building work, which his father used to do for earning a livelihood. Rekha, who used to get disability pension of Rs 1,500 before death of her husband is now getting only Rs 1,000 as widow pension after Ramulu’s death. Stories like these could be heard in almost every household in the tiny hamlet.

When Telangana Today asked Narender why he had not sought treatment for his mother at the government hospital in Mahabubnagar which is hardly 8 km from the hamlet, he said that running from room to room in the hospital, carrying his mother with his bare hands had become too difficult and therefore they had to go for such a treatment.

Streamlining of processes from admission to discharge and the degree of care given to outpatients needs to be improved. However, a problem such as arthritis, which is being faced by lakhs of women across Telangana needs to be understood and taken care of by public healthcare system at the district level and specialised orthopedic care needs to be provided to these women, said healthcare activists.

One option would be bringing arthritis under the gambit of Aarogyasri in district hospitals. Second option could be to provide continuous physiotherapy and orthopedic care at the doorsteps. The former option is more cost-effective and helps generate revenue for government hospitals, said doctors at Mahabubnagar Government Hospital.

Not just this hamlet, but it is learnt that women from many villages used to go to this quack for treatment and as per unofficial estimates around 500-600 women had become victims of this kind of wrongful treatment.

Hundreds have died already due to the ill-effects of the mistreatment. “This kind of treatment, even if given by a registered medical practitioner, is supposed to be given under aseptic conditions by an orthopedic inside the operation theatre. Not just unregistered practitioners, even registered doctors are giving such treatment,” Dr D Ramkishan told Telangana Today.

Telangana Today brought the issue to the notice of District Medical and Health Officer Dr R Rajini, who assured that a medical camp would be held in the village and that criminal action would be initiated against the unregistered medical practitioner if a written complaint was filed with the department.

The hamlet where Lambadas have been consuming borewell water for drinking has seen many deaths due to issues related to consumption of illicit liquor and ailments related to stomach and kidneys. Most of the deaths were due to the lifestyle followed by the people and it is time that people are made aware of leading a healthy lifestyle.